Author’s wife donated ‘Dracula salad’ recipe to help church

Bram Stoker's wife Florence contributed to the recipe book, with sales used to build a church extension.

Recipe: Florence Balcombe contributed Dracula Salad to the church recipe book. church of scotland
Recipe: Florence Balcombe contributed Dracula Salad to the church recipe book.

The wife of the creator of the world’s most famous vampire donated a recipe for ‘Dracula Salad’ to help renovate an historic Aberdeenshire church.

Florence Balcombe contributed to a pamphlet sold in aid of Cruden Parish Church shortly after her husband Bram Stoker died in 1912.

The entry reads: “Arrange alternative slices of ripe tomatoes and ripe purple egg shaped plums in dish and dress with oil and vinegar French dressing.”

All the proceeds from the sale of ‘Cruden Recipes and Wrinkles’ went towards building an extension at Cruden Parish Church, which dates back to 1776, to house an organ.


Minister Rev Sean Swindells revealed the Irish author’s association with his congregation in an online reflection.

Bram Stoker, who was raised in the Church of Ireland, was a regular visitor to Cruden Bay between 1893 and 1910 and wrote the early chapters of Dracula there.

He took the inspiration for Castle Dracula from nearby Slains Castle, a ruined cliff top fortress which has a distinctive octagonal hall which matches the description of a room in the Gothic horror novel.

Florence Balcombe is said to have spent a lot of her time playing golf in Cruden Bay and meeting with friends while her husband was writing.


Mr Swindells said: “For each day of lockdown, I have been publishing a reflection on the church Facebook page and website and we have held online Bible study groups, Sunday evening services and provided pastoral support via phone and email.

“To keep things fresh and relevant this has included some key historical figures like Bram Stoker and to date the most popular reflection appears to be the one about the blood sucking Count Dracula that we published.

“It is a fascinating piece of history but of course within the Christian religion, the shedding of blood through sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, takes on a completely new dimension.

“Rather than the sacrifice of an animal, Jesus the Messiah and Son of God, becomes the sacrifice.

“His shedding of blood and death by the Romans through crucifixion, is seen as a once for all cosmic act of forgiveness.”

Rev Sean Swindells with the recipe for Dracula Salad

London-based Bram Stoker wrote two other books in Cruden Bay – The Watter’s Mou’ and The Mystery of the Sea – but remains most famous for Dracula.


The eponymous character has been brought to life on the silver screen by actors Christopher Lee and Gary Oldman.

Mike Shepherd, author of ‘When Brave Men Shudder: The Scottish origins of Dracula’, said: “Bram Stoker fell in love with the village and used it as his writing den, returning year after year.

“He was a part-time author and he ran the Lyceum Theatre in London which was owned by the most famous actor in the world at the time, Henry Irving.

“Stoker would get a month off every summer when the theatre shut down and while he wrote Florence played golf in the village and met friends.

“She submitted two recipes for the pamphlet, including the Dracula Salad, because of the links between her late husband, Cruden Bay and Dracula.”

Phase three: People from three households can meet indoors

Outdoor meetings of up to five households will also be allowed and two-metre distancing in shops relaxed.

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Lockdown: Nicola Sturgeon set out further easing of restrictions.

Scotland will move to phase three of its plan to ease out of lockdown, with Scots from up to three different households able to meet indoors and stay overnight from Friday.

Outdoor meetings of up to five households, comprising no more than 15 people, will also be permitted, the First Minister revealed.

Nicola Sturgeon announced the shift to MSPs on Thursday following the thrice weekly review of lockdown measures.

She confirmed two-metre social distancing, while remaining in place at large, will be relaxed in key sectors.


Public transport and retail will see the rule relaxed from Friday, the First Minister said.

However, mitigations will need to be in place in these sectors, with face coverings in shops also mandatory from Friday.

This rule, provided businesses have mitigations in place, will also be relaxed for bars, restaurants and cafes – which can reopen indoors and outdoors from next Wednesday, July 15.

Tourism businesses such as hotels will be able to open as expected in Scotland on July 15, the First Minister confirmed to MSPs.


Museums, galleries, libraries and cinemas, provided that tickets are bought in advance, can accommodate people again from that date too.

Hairdressers and barbers will be able to open on July 15, with guidance for the sector due to be published this week.

Shops within shopping centres will also be permitted to reopen, meaning the majority of retail premises will be operational in phase three.

From July 22, personal retail like outlets like beauticians and nail salons can resume work.

It comes as no new coronavirus deaths were reported in Scotland in the last 24 hours.

The First Minister told MSPs that while the virus is being suppressed in Scotland, it has not yet gone away.

She said: “Lockdown has suppressed it, but as lockdown eases there is a very real risk that it will start to spread again.


“And that is not conjecture – it is already happening in many parts of the world.

“And with every restriction we lift, the risk increases – especially as we start to permit more indoor activity.

“So all of us must do everything we can to mitigate it.”

From Friday, up to 15 people from five different households will be allowed to meet outdoors, the First Minister said, as long as two-metre distancing is adhered to.

A maximum of eight people from three different households will also now be able to meet indoors.

However, the FM described the change as “one of the highest risk changes we have made so far”.

She continued: “We know that the risk of transmitting the virus indoors is significantly higher than it is outdoors.

“So it is essential that we all take great care and strictly follow all of the public health advice.”

Couples who do not live together will now be able to meet without physically distancing, regardless of their living arrangements.

Indoor hospitality businesses have also been given the go-ahead to open on July 15, but Sturgeon added: “Just as with indoor household meetings, opening up indoor hospitality poses significantly increased risks of transmission.

“So it is essential that the guidance on health and safety is followed rigorously, by businesses, staff and customers.

“That includes guidance on physical distancing and taking customer contact details.”

The First Minister said the announcement for beauty and nail salons had not been expected so soon, and revealed other measures have been brought forward.

Places of worship will be able to open again for communal prayer and services, earlier than planned, but with restrictions placed on singing and chanting, two-metre distancing and leaving contact details required.

Restrictions on attendance numbers at funerals, weddings and civil partnerships will also be eased, although these numbers will be “even more limited” than those allowed to return to places of worship.

Motorcycle instruction along with theory and hazard tests will be allowed to resume – but not instruction for those learning to drive a car.

No date was given either for the reopening of indoor gyms, bingo halls, live events and non-essential offices.

Sturgeon said there should be “cautious hope” in Scotland over the suppression of the virus but she added it is still a time of “real danger”.

She told the Scottish parliament “Next week represents the most substantial easing of lockdown so far.

“And everything we learn about this, still new virus – about its infectiousness, its ability to kill, and its potential to do long-term damage to health – should warn us that we mess with it at our peril.

“And so perhaps more than ever, now is a time for great caution.”

Analysis: Caution until country is Covid-free

First Minister enjoys coffee as pavement cafes reopened on Monday. (Getty)

by Bernard Ponsonby

So, a further lifting of lockdown and another exercise in carefully pitched language from the First Minister.

Today was a “time for cautious hope and optimism” as the raft of new freedoms suggested something approaching normal was close.

But in keeping with her softly, softly approach, Nicola Sturgeon warned that the coming weeks were “also a time of real danger”, adding that as far as the virus is concerned “we mess with it at our peril”.

Life should not feel entirely normal she told MSPs. As if to emphasise the point some activities planned for phase three like the return of offices and call centres are being put on hold.

And in a clear statement about the pace of lifting lockdown, she said that phase three may well last beyond a three-week period, flagging up that it should not be assumed that at the next statutory review that Scotland will move to phase three.

This is all in keeping with her approach from day one: cautious, measured and emphasising risk as well as lauding progress.

It won’t change either until the country is Covid-free.

Pubs and restaurants in Scotland to reopen on Wednesday

Hairdressers, nail salons, dentists, hotels and shopping centres will also open their doors in coming days.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to open their doors to customers again from Wednesday next week.

Nicola Sturgeon gave the green light to a July 15 reopening for tourism and hospitality businesses as she moved Scotland into phase three of its plan out of lockdown.

Beer gardens and other outdoor hospitality were permitted to resume work from Monday while most shops have already received the go-ahead to reopen.

And from July 13, non-essential shops inside shopping centres will be able to reopen, opening up the vast majority of Scotland’s retail sector.


Dentists will also be able to resume most routine treatments from that day, and children will be allowed to play organised outdoor sports.

As of July 15, indoor hospitality will resume on a limited basis, with public health safeguards in place.

Holiday accommodation like hotels, B&Bs, caravans and campsites can also open again, along with museums, galleries, cinemas and libraries.

All such sites will have to fulfil public health conditions – but will see the two-metre distancing rule relaxed to one metre in these sectors provided they meet them.


It comes after chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed VAT will be reduced for all UK tourism and hospitality firms to 5% from Sunday.

He also announced everyone will receive an ‘eat out to help out’ voucher to be used on selected days in August, offering a 50% discount on meals – up to £10 a head – for those who dine out.

Haidressers and barbers can also resume work from July 15, as can Scotland’s childcare sector, the First Minister confirmed to MSPs on Thursday.

Further, in an unexpected move, places of worship can reopen for limited communal prayer.

The contact details of those in attendance will have to be collected, as they will be in pubs, restaurants and hotels.

Restrictions at funerals, weddings and civil partnerships will also be eased on that same date, though wakes and receptions must continue to follow limits on household gatherings and hospitality.

Sturgeon said: “I am well aware that the restrictions we have had to place on attendance at funerals in these last few months have been particularly hard to bear.


“I am grateful to everyone who has complied, in what I know will have been heart-breaking circumstances.”

From July 22, beauticians and nail salons may reopen too, also earlier than planned.

On that same date, universities and colleges can also begin to implement a “phased return to on-campus learning”.

The First Minister warned the changes permitting indoor hospitality were among the most “high risk” her government had enacted since lockdown.

Sturgeon escribed her statement to Parliament as “the most significant milestone yet in Scotland’s emergence from lockdown”.

She said: “I hope that the measures we have announced or confirmed today are welcome.

“All of them, of course, depend on us keeping the virus under control.

“Eliminating it as far as possible now – ahead of the almost inevitable challenges we will face come winter – remains our objective.

“And we will not hesitate to reimpose restrictions if we consider it necessary to halt the spread of the virus and save lives.”

Phase three could last longer than the scheduled three-week review date, the First Minister said, adding the shift to phase four may take longer.

The third phase also brings changes to Scots’ social lives, with indoor meetings between three households – and overnight stays – permitted from Friday.

The total of three households must comprise no more than eight people meeting indoors, Sturgeon said.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people, comprising up to five households, will also be allowed from tomorrow.

The FM said: “Just as with indoor household meetings, opening up indoor hospitality poses significantly increased risks of transmission.

“So it is essential that the guidance on health and safety is followed rigorously, by businesses, staff and customers.

“That includes guidance on physical distancing and taking customer contact details.”

She re-emphasised the Scottish Government’s ‘FACTS’ campaign to help the public follow public health guidance. The acronym stands for:

  • Face coverings where required, in shops and on public transport.
  • Avoid crowded places.
  • Clean your hands.
  • Two-metre distancing remains the norm.
  • Self-isolate and book a test if you develop coronavirus symptoms.

Community pays tribute to children who died after flat fire

Siblings Fiona, Alexander James and Philip Gibson were laid to rest on Thursday afternoon.

A community lined the streets to pay tribute to three children who died after a house fire.

Siblings Fiona, Alexander James and Philip Gibson – aged 12, eight and five – died after being admitted to hospital following a blaze within a flat in Renfrew Road, Paisley, on Friday, June 19.

The children’s 39-year-old mother, Julie Daley, was critically injured and left fighting for her life, but her condition was later described as non-life threatening.

On Thursday afternoon, the children’s funeral cortege drove through the Renfrewshire town.


The first of the three hearses carried a pink coffin while the other two carried blue ones.

The procession passed St Catherine’s Primary School, where the two boys attended, ahead of the siblings being laid to rest.

Those that wanted to pay their respects were urged to wear colourful clothing and clap softly as the cortege passed.

Flowers and other tributes have previously been left at the scene of the fire, which police are not treating as suspicious. 


Julie McCallum, Fiona’s headteacher at Mary Russell School, described the schoolgirl as a “shining light”.

Emma Henry, Alexander James and Philip’s headteacher, said the boys loved the outdoors and “never ceased to make us smile”.

Following the fire the children’s father, Alex Gibson, wrote on Facebook: “May you rest in peace little angels.”

He later added: “How I miss them already. Now I know what it feels like when your world comes crashing down.”

Free university tuition to end for EU students in Scotland

The Scottish Government says the decision is taken with a 'heavy heart' and is necessary because of Brexit.

Brexit: Policy change 'a consequence of Brexit'.

EU students in Scotland will no longer be entitled to free university tuition from 2021.

Higher education minister Richard Lochhead said the decision had been made by the Scottish Government with a “heavy heart” and is “a consequence of Brexit”.

EU laws required students from the bloc to be treated the same as Scottish students, who continue to have their tuition paid for.

But the policy, estimated to cost around £100m a year, will end in the academic year 2021-22 to avoid “the risk of any legal challenge” as a result of EU laws no longer applying in Scotland.


Students from European Union countries who have already begun their university courses in Scotland, or who begin them this coming academic year, will have their tuition covered for the duration of their degrees.

Free tuition for EU students had continued in Scotland ever since the 2016 Brexit vote.

However, Lochhead previously announced 2020-21 would be a “transition year” for the policy, in line with the UK being in its transition period from leaving the EU.

Official figures show more than 21,000 EU students studied at Scottish universities in 2018-19, with around three quarters of them full-time students whose tuition was funded that year.


Addressing MSPs on Thursday, the higher education minister described scrapping the policy as a “difficult” decision.

He insisted the government will work with the sector to build an “ambitious scholarship programme” to ensure European students are still encouraged to come here.

Lochhead said: “As a result of EU law, since this government abolished tuition fees, we have treated EU students in the same way we treat students from Scotland.

“They do not pay tuition fees. It is only as a result of EU law applying in Scotland that this was possible – indeed it was mandatory.

“Our EU law obligations cease at the end of the transition period in a few months, and continuing with this arrangement for 2021-22 would significantly increase the risk of any legal challenge.

“It is therefore with a heavy heart that we have taken the difficult decision to end free education for new EU students from the academic year 2021-2022 onwards as a consequence of Brexit.”

He added: “EU students who have already started their studies, or who start this autumn, will not be affected and will still be tuition free for the entirety of their course.


“That is the stark reality of Brexit and a painful reminder that our country’s decisions are affected by UK policies that we do not support and did not vote for.

“Our internationalism remains a key strength of higher education in Scotland.

“So, we will discuss with the sector an ambitious scholarship programme to ensure that the ancient European nation of Scotland continues to attract significant numbers of European students to study here.”

Prisoners admit killing man after attack in cell

Three men assaulted 47-year-old Darren Brownlie in a cell at HMP Low Moss Prison, Bishopbriggs, on January 6.

Attack: Incident happened at HMP Low Moss Prison on January 6.

Three prisoners have admitted killing a dad-of-two who was facing trial for attempting to abduct a six-year-old boy.

Craig Derrick, 31, Brian Laing, 27, and David Till, 33, attacked 47-year-old Darren Brownlie in a cell at HMP Low Moss Prison in Bishopbriggs on January 6.

The High Court in Glasgow heard Brownlie, who was on remand awaiting trial for attempting to snatch the boy from a car in Spey Road, Bearsden, on June 25, last year, was kicked and punched on the head and body.

Brownlie was summoned to Derrick’s cell and the fatal attack involving all three accused took just 66 seconds.


Prosecutor Paul Kearney said: “Mr Brownlie had a number of injuries to his face and was bleeding heavily from his nose. He was examined by a nurse who suspected he had broken ribs.”

An ambulance was requested at 5.28pm, but it was not until 10.13pm that paramedics began treating Mr Brownlie, who was by then lying unresponsive on the floor of the cell.

During the almost five hours it took to get medical help Mr Brownlie was put in an observation cell and checked on by staff.

Mr Kearney said: “On a number of occasions Mr Brownlie pressed the emergency buzzer in the cell and witness Graham Bride heard him being told by a member of staff ‘stop pressing the f***ing buzzer. I’ve told you help is on the way.'”


Derrick, Laing and Till admitted the culpable homicide of Mr Brownlie on Thursday. They were originally charged with murder, but their plea to a reduced charged was accepted by the Crown.

Mr Brownlie died from internal bleeding caused by a ruptured spleen and also had broken ribs.

Mr Kearney added: “Mr William Tullet, an accident and emergency consultant at Glasgow Royal Infirmary said that in his opinion had he received timeous pre-hospital treatment for his blood loss and transferred to hospital for surgery he would, in all probability, have survived.”

The court heard that a non-emergency call was made to the ambulance service at 5.28pm. A check made between 7.15pm and 7.30pm revealed Mr Brownlie had vomited and was complaining of being cold.

Another call was made at 7.36pm and a further one at 7.38pm saying it was an emergency. Despite this it was not until 9.45pm that an ambulance was assigned to go to the prison.

An ambulance finally arrived at the prison gates at 9.59pm and there was a delay in it being admitted. Mr Brownlie died at 10.34pm.

The court heard Mr Brownlie was accused of ripping other prisoners off by swapping less potent prescription drugs for legal highs.


Judge Lord Matthews deferred sentence on all three accused until next month and ordered background and risk assessment reports.

Defence counsel for the accused will give their pleas in mitigation then.

Electricity pole fell 200ft from helicopter and landed near road

The aircraft carrying the 700kg wooden pole mistakenly released it onto a hillside 200 metres from a road.

Crash: Electricity pole mistakenly released from aircraft.

An electricity pole fell from a helicopter transporting it and crashed to the ground near a road in the Highlands, accident investigators have found.

The helicopter was flying at around 200ft in Glencoe with the 700kg wooden pole in a sling underneath the aircraft when it was mistakenly released.

The pole crashed into the hillside below and split into two pieces around 200 metres from a minor public road, according to report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

The 66-year-old pilot was flying the Eurocopter solo as part of electricity line refurbishment when the incident happened at around 2.30pm on March 3.


The report said: “The pole broke into two pieces when it struck a steep hill approximately 200 metres from a minor public road but clear of any built-up areas and third parties.

“There was no damage to the helicopter or lifting equipment.

“The operator considered the most probable cause for the inadvertent release of the load was that the sling, which was carrying the load, was not positioned correctly in the helicopter’s hook which was of the spring-loaded keeper design.

“As a result of this incident, the operator is continuing to phase out the design of this hook for most of its operations and has changed its procedures so that only the operator’s employees are permitted to load the hook when spring-loaded keeper hooks are used.”

Fancy your own private island on Loch Lomond for £500k?

The uninhabited island, Inchconnachan, is only accessible by boat and no-one has lived there for 20 years.

For sale: Inchconnachan is on the market for offers over £500k.

A private island in the middle of Loch Lomond has gone on sale for £500,000.

The uninhabited island, Inchconnachan, is only accessible by boat and no-one has lived there for 20 years.

The ruins of a timber bungalow built in Colonial style in the 1920s can still be seen.

It was once the holiday home of thrill-seeking aristocrat Fiona Gore, Countess of Arran who was at one-time the fastest woman on the water, after setting record speeds of 102mph in a powerboat in 1980.

No-one has lived on Inchconnachan there for 20 years. SWNS

Planning consent and detailed architectural drawings have been obtained to replace the existing bungalow with a new four-bedroom lodge and one-bedroom warden’s house, along with a boathouse and pier.

The island is both an Area of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation as well as being part of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and is surrounded by views of mountain ranges.

Wildlife lovers could watch nesting ospreys, otters and deer on the 103-acre island, which can only be accessed by a boat from Luss, Argyll and Bute.

It is on the market for offers over £500,000 – the same price as an ultra-modern one-bedroom flat near Canary Wharf in London.

The island is only accessible by boat. SWNS

Cameron Ewer for Savills said: “This is an extraordinary opportunity to acquire a beautiful and completely private, yet accessible, retreat and create a wonderful new residence there.

“For those seeking peace and seclusion, yet wanting all that this part of Scotland has to offer in the way of nature and water-based sport and activities, this is surely the ultimate prize.”

Tom Stewart-Moore for Knight Frank said: “To be able to build your own house on your own private island but yet in a very accessible and beautiful part of the country will be a dream for many and is likely to have global appeal.”

Mourners line street in tribute to toddler killed in crash

Xander Irvine’s funeral cortege passed through Morningside Road in Edinburgh on Thursday morning.

Tribute: Xander Irvine loved books, toy vehicles and Lego.

Mourners lined the streets in tribute to a “happy, bubbly, intelligent little boy” who was killed in a crash in Edinburgh.

Xander Irvine’s funeral cortege passed through Morningside Road on Thursday ahead of the three-year-old’s private service and burial at Morningside Cemetery.

Funeral cortege: Mourners placed roses on the hearse as it passed.

The toddler’s family had asked for as many people as possible from local homes and businesses to line the street to say their goodbyes.

Florist Quate & Co handed out 400 roses to those who had gathered so they could be placed on the hearse as it passed.

Edinburgh: Flowers and teddies have been placed along Morningside Road.

Flowers and teddies have also been left on the street in tribute to the toddler.

Xander suffered fatal injuries after a car mounted a pavement and careered into a shop in Morningside Road last Tuesday afternoon.

His 37-year-old mother was also injured in the crash but was released from hospital.

The driver of the red Kia, a 91-year-old woman, was uninjured.


In a statement released through Police Scotland, Xander’s family described him as “real chatterbox who just loved books, playing with all sorts of vehicles and his Lego”.

Parents Victoria and Paul said there were “devastated and feel as if their hearts have been ripped out”. 

Loved: Xander was described as a ‘chatterbox’.

The toddler’s family thanked members of the public and the emergency services for their help at the scene of the accident.

A fundraiser has been set up for Xander’s family, with more than £25,000 raised so far.

If you wish to donate, click here.

Boots to cut more than 4000 jobs due to impact of Covid-19

The high street pharmacy company said the restructuring will also see 48 Boots Opticians stores close.

Boots: Company to cut more than 4000 jobs.

High street pharmacy chain Boots has said it expects to cut more than 4000 jobs as part of action to mitigate the “significant impact” of Covid-19.

The move will affect around 7% of the company’s workforce and will particularly affect staff in its Nottingham support office.

It will also affect some deputy and assistant manager, beauty adviser and customer adviser roles across its stores.

The restructuring will also result in the closure of 48 Boots Opticians stores.


It comes after retail sales tumbled by 48% over the past three months in the face of the pandemic, despite Boots keeping swathes of its stores open to customers.

Meanwhile, its opticians business saw sales dive by 72% compared to the same quarter last year as people stayed at home.

Boots said that the cuts represent an “acceleration” of its transformation plans to improve profitably across the business.

Sebastian James, managing director of Boots UK, said: “The proposals announced today are decisive actions to accelerate our transformation plan, allow Boots to continue its vital role as part of the UK health system, and ensure profitable long-term growth.


“I am so very grateful to all our colleagues for their dedication during the last few challenging months.

“They have stepped forward to support their communities, our customers and the NHS during this time, and I am extremely proud to be serving alongside them.”

“In doing this, we are building a stronger and more modern Boots for our customers, patients and colleagues.

“We recognise that today’s proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time.”

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